Need For Economic Crimes’ Nuremberg-Type Trials – OpEd


I prefer the Spanish word “perogrullada” to its English equivalent: truism or platitude. During my youth we had something closer in meaning to perogrullada when we would confront someone expressing the obvious, saying “no kidding, Dick Tracy!” [Dick Tracy was then a very popular comic strip detective and crime solver.]

Well, the great minds here in America are now telling us that a double-dip recession is beginning to look more as a probability than a possibility. And I say… no kidding, Dick Tracy! We actually never came out of the recession, never mind some intermittent data that only served to confuse and mask the true state of most world economies, particularly those in much of the Western World. How can any student of economics knowing, or even guessing, that there were trillions of dollars of overvalued assets and phony paper still in the books of many major world banks, disregard it as a non-event? Depending on how many trillion are inflating the books, recession will stay with us, particularly in much of Europe and the United States, for as long as a decade.

Nuremberg trial
Nuremberg trial

Although some of the latter day economic crimes are global in nature and deserve to be tried by an international tribunal, many nations are not quite yet prepared to grant authority on complex economic matters to an international body, such as the International Court at The Hague. The United States, a nation where much of the techno-financial crimes originated, would never consent to such scrutiny, and the likely indictment of many of its most prominent leaders in banking, finance and politics. No one would expect such masochism to take place for crime which took place, and was allowed at the apex of American economic and political power.

But we don’t need any foreign legal authority to tell us about the criminality which was, and continues to be, harbored in both Wall Street and Washington; we are well aware of it although seemingly impotent to do anything about it. All Americans need is some honest leadership which will listen to their clamor for economic justice; leaders that would bring about the formation of a US economic tribunal (USET) under existing laws and, if necessary, ex post facto extraordinary laws that would have to be enacted to restore trust and bestow a sense of socio-economic fairness and morality in our nation and the people we elect to represent us. That tribunal would have to be totally independent and without influence from the White House, Congress or the Justice Department; a legal body that would be granted temporary investigatory, prosecutorial and punitive authority under a predetermined code, or set of principles.

Those of us who are history buffs, specifically World War II, including events that preceded and postdated that war (1937-1947), tend to look at the Nuremberg Trials (1945-6) with different degrees of criticism. One does not need to be a legal scholar to realize that much of the Nuremberg proceedings simulated more a lynching party, or a guillotine exhibition, than a trial conducted according to universal precepts of common law. The defendants, prisoners of war, were not allowed to challenge the fairness of the judges, nor were they given the right to appeal. Many of the crimes for which they were charged, and convicted of, had been and were being committed by the accusers, or their governments; at times such crimes falling under retrospective law. And, to top it all, the trials were conducted under their own, and unchallengeable, rules of evidence.

Yet, even if History ultimately renders the Nuremberg Trials as illusory justice, or even a mockery of justice, the argument will remain strong that an important purpose was served by these trials: placating the demands for justice of a bleeding continent which had shed 40 million lives and experienced ruinous destruction; even if in reality it was a victors’ justice, it was by most accounts a remarkable improvement over past historical situations where post-war resolution usually amounted to no more than vengeance over an entire nation or people.

Fortunately, we should be able to do much better today, and our government could offer more than just a semblance of justice in bringing about the unraveling of economic crimes through such an economic tribunal. The flaws in the Nuremberg Trials could be overcome for the most part, and an equally important purpose would be served: the soothing and return to trust of a nation which has been economically and incestuously raped by the very leaders and holders of the people’s trust; the raping conducted under the auspices of the free marketplace and globalization.

Obama, impotently and clueless, talks about creating jobs… How about using a trillion dollars in requisitioned ill-gotten profits and punitive fines from the gangsters or banksters in Wall Street? A perfect way of funding, without adding to the national debt, the creation of several million jobs to renovate an infrastructure which is beginning to look as that of a developing country! Most of these Wall Street firms would be forced out of business, but their services really add no real value to commerce or society… the industry having proved itself as nothing but a parasite, one able to contaminate the nation’s institutions, as well as the greed and vanity of our elected politicians.

Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn is a syndicated columnist. Over a decade ago he started writing a weekly sociopolitical column, 'Behind the Mirror,' hoping to bring new perspectives that would allow us to see ourselves with borrowed eyes. He can be reached at [email protected]

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